Wilbur Ross’ IAC dumps CEO Steve Miller, names Rea as replacement

Miller: Longtime history in the auto industry.

International Automotive Components Group said it hired Natale Rea to replace auto industry veteran Robert “Steve” Miller as its president and interim CEO.

The change is effective immediately, the company said in a statement Monday. Miller, 76, who spent three years leading the suburban Detroit supplier, is retiring. It’s unclear whether Miller was forced out or a retirement was planned, though no previous announcement had been made.

In April, IAC secured new financing by issuing $215 million of notes to funds managed by Gamut Capital Management LP, which gave the New York private equity firm a minority stake in the auto supplier. Top executive changes often occur when new ownership is established, but there is no indication that this happened in this case. The company did not immediately reply to inquiries about Miller’s departure.

Rea joins IAC from his investment firm Rea Holdings Inc., where he served as president since 2012. Before that, he served as president of the automotive division of Canadian auto supplier Martinrea International Inc., which was created in 2002 when Rea merged his supplier, Rea International, with Pilot Industries Inc.

“We are thrilled to welcome Nat to IAC,” IAC Chairman Stephen Toy, the senior managing director and co-head of WL Ross & Co., Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross’ investment firm and majority owner of IAC, said in a news release. “We thank Steve Miller for his significant contributions to IAC over the last three years…”

Miller, whose extensive resume includes a momentous position as executive chairman of Delphi Corp. during its Chapter 11 bankruptcy from 2007 until its emergence in 2009, worked to streamline IAC’s operations and functions by phasing out nonautomotive activity. The company grew under his leadership to $4.4 billion in revenue in 2017 and made it the largest supplier of automotive injection moldings in North America.

He also established a joint venture, Auria Solutions Ltd. with Shanghai Shenda Co. Ltd., and led the recent recapitalization of the company.

Miller’s time at Delphi led him to write an autobiography on managing companies near collapse titled, “The Turnaround Kid: What I Learned Rescuing America’s Most Troubled Companies.”